Orchid Fertilizing: A detailed guide on how to feed Orchids

Fertilizing an orchid plant is a crucial part of caring for the prized plant. Knowing the right fertilizer for orchids, when to fertilize orchids and how to fertilize orchids would help ensure thriving plant growth. 

Orchid Fertilizing

Do Orchids Need Fertilizer

Orchids do need fertilizer to grow in a proper manner. However, how much fertilizer an orchid would require depends on the species being fed, as not all orchids require regular fertilizing. 

If fertilized in a correct manner, the orchid should produce better blooms, retain its leaves longer, and should look richer.in appearance. 

Using excess fertilizer on your plant could cause a fertilizer buildup that could harm the orchid by burning the delicate roots of the plant species, so it is important to know when and how to fertilize orchids. 

When Do you Fertilize Orchids?

It is recommended that you fertilize your orchids every week during their growing season as this is when the plant should need fertilizer the most.

Always ensure the fertilizer being used is a weak fertilizer that has been diluted with water as concentrated fertilizer could be too harsh for the plant’s roots. 

You can make use of a standard 10-10-10 fertilizer that has been diluted to half of its initial strength or a more balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer that has been diluted to a quarter of its initial strength. 

There are also unique orchid-suitable fertilizers that you can try out, but be sure to check out the instructions before applying them. 

Understanding the Growth Season

Understanding the Growth Season
The Spruce

The plant’s growing season is in two stages, the stage of vegetative growth and the flower production or bloom period. It is recommended that fertilizing should be done during the vegetative growth stage alone, 

When your orchid plant starts producing flowers, be sure to hold off on fertilizing the plant till it has finished producing blooms, as fertilizing during this period would harm the flowers being produced. 

A great practice to use fertilizer would be to fertilize once every week for  3 weeks straight, and then on the 4th week, do a thorough flush of the fertilizer built up from regular fertilizing. 

Not all orchids follow the same growth season so one feeding routine cannot be used on all types and genera of orchids. So having a basic knowledge of your plant’s growing season would be helpful. 

For most orchid species their growth season is followed by the production of flowers and then a period of dormancy. However, orchids like the Tenuifolia have a reputation for having active growth seasons throughout the year. 

So in general,  you would have to tailor your feeding routine to each orchid species you intend to feed.  

The Best Fertilizer for Orchids

There are many fertilizer-producing companies so it could be easy to get lost in all the products available. So figuring out what is the best fertilizer for orchids can be a bit difficult. 

However, an Ideal fertilizer for your orchids would be one that is rich in Nitrogen, potassium, and Phosphorus. These three nutrients promote a strong and healthy growth for your orchid. 

In addition to picking the right fertilizer for your orchids, the right water should also be considered. Avoid diluting your fertilizer with tap water, as tap water contains chlorine which could be harsh on the plant’s roots. 

Use rainwater for your plant orchids as they are the purest form of water. If you can’t find or collect rainwater, you can use distilled water. 

Overfeeding Your Orchid 

Overfeeding Your Orchid 

Always stick to the appropriate feeding routine for your orchid plant. Attempting to overfeed your plant would cause more harm through the excess salt buildup on the plant’s roots. 

Also, overfed orchid plants suffer from diseases faster as they become weak from the excess fertilizer being used on them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use liquid fertilizer for orchids?

Yes, what matters is that it contains Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

What is the best fertilizer for phalaenopsis orchids?

Phalaenopsis orchids could be fed orchid-suitable fertilizer or a diluted 20-20-20 fertilizer. 

Can I use slow-release fertilizer for orchids?

Slow release fertilizer is unconventional, but it can be used to feed orchids,  A porous holder would be needed to hold the pellets in place.  

Can I use orchid fertilizer on other plants?

Yes, but do not use them on plants you intend to eat (Vegetables and fruits). 

Do orchids go dormant?

Most orchids go dormant, but peculiar orchids like the cattleya orchid have a period of slow growth which is not complete dormancy.

Marijke Puts
About Marijke Puts
Marijke Puts has Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science and is from The Netherlands. She has a certified master gardener and loves everything about houseplants and gardening.

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